Belfast Telegraph

Traders disappointed by level of footfall at Derry continental market

By Donna Deeney

Londonderry's first big continental market didn't prove the hit that was expected as traders expressed disappointment at the level of custom.

The market organisers, Dublin-based company VSC Events, along with Derry City Council, were responsible for staging the event in the city during the first three weeks of December.

A total of 40 Swiss-style stalls were set up in Guildhall Square through to Waterloo Place.

The council had hoped it would encourage locals to shop in the city instead of travelling to the Continental Market in Belfast. But footfall at the Derry version was a lot less than anticipated.

Vanessa Clarke from VSC Events put the lack of trade down to teething problems.

She explained: “I think it was because it was year one. It takes a few years to bed these things in and few years to learn what works and what doesn't, what people want and what they don't want.

“We always knew year one was going to be tricky. I think the traders would have liked more footfall, especially during the week.

“We haven't done the debriefing with the council yet but maybe it was too long for Derry.”

While Londonderry Chamber of Commerce was not directly involved with the market coming to Derry, its president, Phillip Gilliland, said it will make its views known to the council.

He said: “I thought it (the market) could have been a lot better, a lot more thought needs to go into how we do it next year. We need to get local residents in the market.

“I thought the stuff from Rathlin House was excellent but there were not enough specialist producers of good local stuff.

“During the Clipper Festival the seafood tent was fantastic and it was all local and it was all world-class.

“We will have a view in the chamber and we will feed it to the council but I think more thinking needs to be done before we do it again.”

A spokeswoman for Derry City Council said a debrief would be held, adding: “As a new initiative for the city all feedback and comments are welcome to assist with shaping any future activity.”

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